Chinese zookeeper launches violent attack on red-crowned crane after it pecks at him

Employee suspended for three months after pummelling state-protected bird with a stick, breaking its wing

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 March, 2018, 1:38pm
UPDATED : Monday, 16 April, 2018, 2:12pm

A zookeeper in northern China who launched a violent attack on a red-crowned crane, breaking its wing, said he was acting in self-defence, according to a state media report.

The incident, which was witnessed by several members of the public, happened on Friday morning at Shijiazhuang Zoo in Hebei province, China Central Television reported on Saturday.

According to a statement issued by the zoo, soon after the keeper entered the bird’s enclosure it began pecking at him.

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Rather than take evasive action, however, the man decided to launch a counter attack and began striking the animal with a stick, according to a social media post by a witness to the event.

“The crane shrieked each time the stick landed,” the person wrote on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service. “It kept trying to get back on its feet but its efforts ended in vain.”

By the time the beating was over, the crane was covered in blood and slumped at the foot of a tree, the person said.

The zoo did not reveal the identity of the keeper, but said he had reacted out of shock after the bird pecked at his face, close to his eye.

“He was beside himself,” it said in the statement.

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The bird was receiving treatment for its injuries, but it was too early to say if it would make a full recovery, the zoo said.

The keeper was given an official warning and suspended for three months, it said.

Red-crowned cranes, are the heaviest crane species and can weigh up to 11kg (25 pounds). Also known as Manchurian crane, they are classed as an endangered species in China and protected by law.